MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on a book publicity tour in states that play early roles in the U.S. presidential race, said on Monday he would likely wait until November 6, a year before the 2008 election, to announce any campaign for the White House.
As he signed copies of his book “Pearl Harbor” in New Hampshire, the first presidential primary state, Gingrich said, “If we were to do anything, we would probably do it on November 6.
“A year is more campaigning than the American people need to endure,” he said.
Gringrich has said previously only that he would make a decision in autumn.
If he decides to seek his party’s nomination, he would join a crowded field of 10 Republicans, many of whom have been running since early this year for the presidential election on November 4, 2008.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lead in most public opinion polls, although Rasmussen Reports and some other national polls put Romney nearly neck-and-neck with Gingrich.
Dean Spiliotes, director of research at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, said Gingrich could broaden debate among Republicans into issues such as health care and government spending, but would face many difficulties.
“He would have to spend a fair bit of time dealing with the past — lots of people still see him as a polarizing ideologue,” he said.
Gingrich, 63, who shot to prominence when Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and championed the Republican “Contract with America” agenda, some of which was enacted and some of which remains on Republican wish lists. He stepped down as speaker and resigned from the U.S. Congress on November 6, 1998, amid ethics allegations and Republican election losses.
Gingrich and “Law & Order” actor and former Senator Fred Thompson, who has also not formally entered the race, appeal to social conservatives and evangelical Christians, many of whom who are frustrated with the current Republican candidates.
He said he would hold community meetings in New Hampshire in September. “Then we will start looking whether we will establish an exploratory committee, and we will probably spend all of October looking,” he said.
The book-signing was to be followed by a similar event in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest in the presidential race.